Reaction To Calls For Postal Service Cuts
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
The view now from a postmaster, Daniel Jones is the postmaster of Asheville, North Carolina.
And, Mr. Jones, you've worked for the Postal Service for 30 years now, right?
Mr. DANIEL JONES (Postmaster, Ashville, North Carolina): Yes, 30 years this month.
BLOCK: This month, but who's counting?
Mr. JONES: Right.
(Soundbite of laughter)
BLOCK: What are the biggest changes you've seen, do you think, in the last few years?
Mr. JONES: Well, I think the biggest change that we've seen in the last few years, of course, has been the decline in mail volume. And we saw a time when I first came in, I of course was working as a city carrier at that time, and the volume had grown steadily throughout my career. And then over the last few years we've seen a decline in volume. And a lot of that's due to the economics, recession that we're in and then a lot of it's electronic diversion of mail.
BLOCK: Are you seeing a change, too, in the folks who are actually coming into post offices?
Mr. JONES: We don't see the same amount of people that we did in the past. And we also see that they're spending less money.
BLOCK: I wonder, too, if it's a thing where you just wouldn't see as many young people coming into post offices now. They'd be the most inclined to use email.
Mr. JONES: That's correct. We do see a lot less young people coming in, and because of the fact that they do a lot of things electronically now. I think banking is a big factor. They bank online. They do a lot of emailing.
BLOCK: Mr. Jones, what do you think about this notion of stopping home delivery service on Saturdays?
Mr. JONES: I think that it may be the only alternative we have.
BLOCK: Would there be people waiting maybe for checks that could come on a Saturday?
Mr. JONES: Well, there's that possibility that that could happen. But I think as, you know, there again, back to the electronic thing, a lot of people don't get those checks in the mail nowadays. Unfortunately they go straight to the bank. But for those who do rely on the mail service, there is that possibility that they would have to wait until Monday to receive that check.
BLOCK: You know, they're talking about possibly offering Postal Service at grocery stores or drugstores. And I'm curious if you see something lost in that, in people not coming into a physical post office for those things.
Mr. JONES: Well, I think the sense of the Postal Service, I mean, we've always - a lot of places want to identify with the Postal Service, it's part of the community. And that's something that has been there for, you know, 235 years. And we want to continue to be that part of the community.
So, you know, there are a lot of things being put out there about what we possibly could do differently. We've even got applications now for the iPhone, the BlackBerry and those other devices that give those people - that tend to be able to get into the electronic age - access to those things.
BLOCK: You mentioned post offices being a part of the community. I remember reading many years ago about rural post offices where people would bring their newborns in to be weighed because that was the only scale in town.
Mr. JONES: Right. I have the luxury of knowing my grandfather was a rural substitute carrier for 52 years. And my father was a city carrier for 30 years. And unfortunately, some of those things, the community post office and those things are dying out as we move forward.
BLOCK: What kinds of things?
Mr. JONES: Well, just as you mentioned: The place to meet and locate, you know, to congregate, to get together and talk. Those were some of the things that the old-timers, I guess, in years gone by would've talked about, meeting at the post office to do. And you don't see that nowadays.
BLOCK: Would your dad have talked about that?
Mr. JONES: Oh, sure. My dad told stories about, you know, getting with the guys and going out and delivering in the morning. Back then, they delivered twice a day. They delivered in the morning and then also delivered again in the afternoon.
BLOCK: Did he have a favorite story from his time that he would tell you?
Mr. JONES: I can't remember one right off the top my head. I know that my grandfather would tell me stories about in the rural community. He delivered on a route that was 99 miles long. And sometimes around lunchtime he would go to a particular box, and they would always have a glass of iced tea in the box for him. And he would always look forward to getting to that box to get to the tea.
BLOCK: Oh, I bet. Well, Daniel Jones, it's good to talk to you. Thanks very much.
Mr. JONES: Well, Melissa, thank you. And I appreciate your time.
BLOCK: Daniel Jones is the postmaster in Ashville, North Carolina.
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